Wild and Free (Album Review)

Jessica Vosk is currently Elphaba in Wicked on Broadway, having taken over the role recently after performing the role on tour for a year. Vosk put aside her love of musical theater in college; she got a job at an investor relations firm in New York City and she made the move to the Big Apple from her small town in New Jersey. Even though she did become acquainted with Wall Street, Vosk could not shake the feeling that she didn’t fit into that world. Through networking and performing at open mic nights across town, Vosk landed a role in a concert version of Kristina, at both Carnegie Hall and London’s Royal Albert Hall in 2009. The next time we saw her was in Broadway’s The Bridges of Madison County in 2014. The next year the world saw her in Finding Neverland and  Vosk remained active on the concert and cabaret scene. Vosk was also in the 2015 revival of Fiddler on the Roof as Fruma Sarah. The album Wild And Free was fully crowdfunded by fans within 72 hours of the Kickstarter going live. The album is filled with fan favorites from her concert and cabaret shows, and every song on the album is different.

A song that was written by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul for The Greatest Showman “A Million Dreams” is the first track on the album. I love this song for the opening number because it not only sets the tone for the sort of album this is, it also really highlights Vosk as a singer. In the tune, Vosk is using many parts and colors of her amazing range, and the power of her voice comes through.

When an artist tries to blend songs together, it might not work if the numbers don’t work well. “The Entertainer / Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” originally by Billy Joel / Elton John / Bernie Taupin, is the mashup of two songs done correctly. Both of these songs suit Vosk as a singer even though they’re not Broadway pieces, and this just proves her versatility as a  singer. Separately these songs are delightful when sung by her, but together they become a completely new rendition of both of the songs for new audiences.

Vosk has not played Jenna in Waitress yet, but when you hear her cover of “What Baking Can Do,” by Sara Bareilles, you can hear her in the role. The style is Broadway, but her musicality might not be what you’re used to when you hear the song; its originality is Vosk’s interpretation.

This album is filled popular numbers and also songs that are lesser known. “Brand New Key” by Melanie Safka is one of the more unique songs on the album because it has a melody and lyrics that work in a way people might not often hear. Vosk is using more of a country sound that works for the style of the song that she is singing.

Another mashup is the two songs, “Help / Being Alive” written by John Lennon/Paul McCartney and Stephen Sondheim. The piece starts with just Vosk and the piano, and as the song builds, we get to a big belt section of the tune. We appreciate her tone and power in the belt, but also that she is able to use less power at times while still producing the same amount of volume.

One of my favorite songs on the album is “The Music That Makes Me Dance” by Jule Styne and Bob Merrill. The tone of the song is jazzier than anything else on the album and I love where the song sits in Vosk’s voice. Vosk takes a song that everyone knows and styles it to uniquely enhance the number.

Another Broadway song is “Nobody’s Side” from Chess with music by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus and lyrics by Tim Rice. This number proves that Vosk has the Broadway vocals to be heard over the sounds of a big band or a large orchestra. In this song, in particular, the band and Vosk as a vocalist work very well together.

Another favorite song of mine on the album is “Chandelier” by Sia Furler and Jesse Shatkin. The full sound of Vosk’s vibrato was amazing to me when I first listened to this cover and remains just as thrilling after I have heard it a few times now. To me, it is not a stretch to say that this cover is breathtaking.

The ballad “Nothing Compares 2 U” (Prince) also demonstrates Vosk’s vocal versatility. Other singers have crossed genres, but they all have their specific style that is their preference. Vosk executes Broadway, pop and rock flawlessly. As shown here, she is a singer who can perform many genres and sing them all differently.

The piano intro sets the style and the vibe for “Love Has No Pride,” originally by Eric Kaz and Libby Titus. This is a softer song, meaning that it is just Vosk and the piano.  I love the lighter tones of the number because it is a part of Vosk’s repertoire that we don’t hear as much on this album.

By Lucy Simon and Marsha Norman, “Hold On” is a Broadway song, and like the number before it starts with a softer voice. It proves that Vosk cannot only use different parts of her voice in songs but different areas of her voice in the same section.

One of my favorite pop covers is “Masterpiece” written by Josh Alexander/Britt Burton/Emily Warren. I feel it uses a more controlled vibrato; it still has the same energy and power, but it seems to be more controlled than the rest of the pop covers.

Another one of the unique songs that the album has in store, “Woke the F*ck Up” is originally by Jon Bellion, Mylon Hayde, Robin Tadross and Mark Williams. The background vocals of Marissa Rosen and Marty Thomas are also featured. It showcases background singers more than the other numbers.  We hear how well Vosk can blend with other vocalists. Not only is she a great solo artist, but she also can perform well with a group.

Vosk singing “It All Fades“ by Jason Robert Brown, highlights her clear tone and quality. We have heard Jessica Vosk sing different styles of music on the album, but going back to her first Broadway show for the last song brings the album full circle.